Tuesday, July 20, 2010


Author: Ally Condie
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy

Everything is perfect in 17 year old Cassia Reyes’ world. And everything is perfect because everything is decided for her: what she will wear, what she will eat, what she may read, what her career will be, who she will marry: just as it is for every other citizen in the Society. She doesn’t question it. Not until the morning after her Match Banquet, at which she was assigned her life partner, chosen because his genes perfectly complimented hers and ensure healthy children. Cassia was lucky enough to be Matched with her best friend, Xander. The odds against it are staggering; it has been years since someone was Matched to a person they already knew. But when she puts Xander’s card into her portscreen at home, it isn’t his picture that appears; instead Cassia sees another boy. Another boy she knows.

Worry consumes Cassia. There must have been a malfunction, a glitch in Xander’s card. Why else would she have seen her neighbor, Ky Markham, instead? The Society does not make mistakes. It cannot make mistakes. Her fears are allayed when a high level Official tells her not to worry, that it was simply a malfunction. Ky could never be her Match. He will never be anyone’s Match. He is an Aberration, a lower caste and not permitted to mate.

But Cassia’s seed of doubt grows. A mistake has been made by the government she grew up believing infallible. What if Ky is supposed to be her Match?

A frightening cross between Huxley’s “A Brave New World” and our own, Matched dunks the reader into another reality, one that is conceivably not too far from our own. It is alive, it breaths, and before long Matched has the reader so pulled in that it isn’t hard to believe the Society actually does exist. It’s the strongest, most vivid character in the book. “They are giving us pieces of real life instead of the whole thing…” Cassia complains, wanting more than she has been allotted. For Cassia, scraps aren’t enough. Not after their mistake.

She is a compelling character, Cassia Reyes: curious and cautious, book-smart and street-ignorant, submissive and rebellious. Just the right blend for a teenager pushing her boundaries and deciding if it is worth the price she must pay to break them. But all the time it feels like Cassia is holding back, like we only get to view her through the portscreens in our homes, impersonal and impossible to touch. But the promise is there, the promise of so much more from Cassia and all of the others she interacts with.

Matched doesn’t bring quite the same intensity to the arm chair as The Hunger Games, another dystopian young adult novel, but the sentiments and themes it portrays are just as moving. No one should ever say that there is nothing to be learned from fiction. Novels like Matched show in graphic detail why we must fight for our freedoms, for the rights we take for granted and stay true to ourselves while doing so. To paraphrase Dylan Thomas’s poem, we cannot go gently into the good night.

Matched is told in first person with Cassia as the narrator.

My Thoughts:
This book felt like it went very slowly, yet I didn’t want to put it down. I would have loved to have felt more connected to Cassia and Ky, their relationship to each other and those around them. Perhaps this was partly due to the nature of their Society, the withholding of yourself because someone is always watching. Oddly enough, Xander was the character I understood the best. His motives were clear, as was his joy or pain. Over all I would say that it holds a great deal of promise, of things to come in the sequel. I just wish I didn’t have to wait to see how everything pans out.

Favorite Scene:
Cassia breaking the frame. Her thoughts on what it would sound like, the musings of someone who has never heard glass shatter, struck me as completely honest and perhaps one of the best written scenes I’ve come across. This line, in particular, has stuck with me because of the hope, loss and beauty contained within it: “I think the glass would make a glittery sound when it broke; I would like to see it burst into a million pieces and shine all the way down.”

Who this book is best for: 13 years old and up.

Stars: 3.5 of 5, edging its way up to 4 stars (despite its flaws) the more I think about it.

Violence: 0 of 5